Suicide is the second leading cause of death among teenagers. In Texas, a surge in online threats and intimidation has been linked to the suicide of young people, leading to calls for the enactment of “David’s Law” to tackle cyber bullying.
The proposed legislation is named after David Molak. David would have turned 17 last year, reported KXAN.
Tragically, he lost his life in January 2016. He was bullied by peers via texts, social media websites and mobile apps.
The death of David Molak led to a push from his parents, Matt and Maurine Molak, for a bill that would herald harsher punishments for students and their parents for bullying.
The bill for “David’s Law” was filed in late 2016 in the Texas Capitol. KXAN reported that the bill would give schools the power to investigate bullying off-campus. It would create an anonymous tip-off line and herald in tougher punishments.
The bill envisages punishment for bullying that’s similar to issuing a traffic ticket. However, if a bullied child ends up taking their own life, the bullying would become a felony.
Matt Molak told the TV station:
“It brings the parents in with some consequences to them if they’re not doing something about what their kids are up to.”
The upsurge in online threats is extremely worrying. We noted last year the surge in so-called ‘clown threats” made on social media.
However, Texas enacted a law on cyber harassment in 2009. It criminalized various activities on commercial social networking sites, e-mail or text.
The law makes it an offense if:
A perpetrator uses the name or identity of another person to set up a web page on or to post messages on a social networking site without getting the consent of the other person or with intent to harm, intimidate or threaten a person.
Sending an email, instant message, text message, or another communication that contains a name, domain address, phone number, or other item of identifying information belonging to any person is also an offense.
The crime is charged as a Class A misdemeanor but can become a third-degree felony if the perpetrator commits the offense with the intent to solicit a response by emergency personnel.
Intimidation online is a rapidly developing area and one which treads a delicate balance between First Amendment rights and behavior that is intimidating and threatening. Even threats that use Emojis have been judged to be admissible in court. A 12-year-old girl from Virginia was charged with threatening her school over an Emoji on Instagram containing guns and a knife.
If you have been charged with a cyber crime of this nature, it’s important to seek experienced legal counsel. Call the Medlin Law Firm today at (682) 204-4066.